On The Money: House passes $484B relief package | McConnell sparks backlash with state bankruptcy remarks | 4.4M more people file jobless claims
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THE BIG DEAL — House passes $484 billion coronavirus relief package: The House on Thursday voted overwhelmingly to pass legislation providing hundreds of billions of dollars in coronavirus relief for small businesses, hospitals and expanded medical testing, capping weeks of contentious negotiations that had stalled Washington’s latest round of emergency aid.
The Hill’s Mike Lillis and Juliegrace Brufke have more here.
Another round of relief: The massive package is the fourth coronavirus bill to move through Congress over the last seven weeks, and brings the federal response to the pandemic to a whopping $2.8 trillion — by far the largest emergency relief effort in modern U.S. history.
What’s inside the bill:
- $310 billion in additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), an initiative that offers loans to businesses that can be forgiven if the money is used to keep employees on payrolls.
- $30 billion in loans must be issued exclusively by federally insured banks and credit unions with assets between $10 billion and $50 billion, and another $30 billion in loans must be issued by firms with less than $10 billion in assets.
- $75 billion in additional funds for hospitals to cover treatment for coronavirus patients and lost revenue from canceled elective procedures, following $100 billion previously approved.
- $25 billion in funding to develop and expand access to tests for COVID-19, a crucial step toward curbing the pandemic and easing social distancing restrictions.
- A requirement for Trump to release a plan to help states test a far greater number of residents — a major point of contention between Democrats and Republicans in negotiations with the White House amid the president’s feuds with governors.
LEADING THE DAY
McConnell sparks bipartisan backlash with state bankruptcy remarks: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP lawmaker calls McConnell remarks on state bankruptcy ‘shameful and indefensible’ Trump on coronavirus response debt: ‘We had no choice’ Overnight Health Care: Doctor says he was removed from federal post after opposing funding for unproven drugs | Trump: I ‘disagree strongly’ with Georgia governor on reopening| Battle heats up for phase-four coronavirus relief bill MORE (R-Ky.) is facing blowback from across the political spectrum after he suggested states should be able to declare bankruptcy as they face severe budget holes sparked by the coronavirus outbreak.
The debate over providing more federal funding for state and local governments is emerging as an early lightning rod in the next coronavirus bill. But McConnell sparked his own political firestorm when, in a radio interview, he said he supported letting states declare bankruptcy and positioned Republicans as cautious of providing them with additional federal relief.
The remarks were met with quick and fierce backlash by lawmakers and local officials from states hit hard by the spread of the coronavirus, including members of McConnell’s own party.
The Hill’s Jordain Carney fills us in here.
Another 4.4 million Americans file for unemployment: Millions more Americans filed their first claims for unemployment insurance last week as the U.S. economy bleeds jobs under a lockdown imposed to slow the coronavirus pandemic, the Labor Department reported Thursday.
- Between April 12 and 18, 4.4 million Americans applied for jobless benefits for the first time, falling by roughly 800,000 from a revised total of 5.2 million jobless claims in the prior week.
- Claims for jobless benefits have shattered historic highs in the five weeks since the U.S. began to feel the economic devastation from social distancing measures adopted to curb the coronavirus.
- More than 26 million Americans have applied for their first round of unemployment insurance since March as shuttered businesses lay off workers. Millions more are believed to have lost their jobs but have been unable to apply for or are disqualified from receiving jobless benefits.
“While this is the fourth consecutive drop in UI claims since the peak at the end of March, that is of little comfort to the 26 million Americans … who have filed for unemployment insurance since the crisis began,” said Daniel Zhao, senior economist at Glassdoor.
Read more about it here.
Treasury warns large companies against applying for loan program: The Trump administration on Thursday advised large businesses with ample access to financial markets against applying for emergency coronavirus relief loans as some major companies face backlash for tapping aid for small businesses.
In a set of guidelines released Thursday, the Treasury Department warned that valuable, publicly traded companies likely cannot say in good faith that they qualify for an emergency Small Business Administration (SBA) loan program to prevent layoffs and bankruptcies.
- While the program was created to keep small businesses afloat, more than a dozen large companies were able to secure loans intended for firms with fewer credit options.
- Treasury warned that “it is unlikely that a public company with substantial market value and access to capital markets will be able to make the required certification in good faith, and such a company should be prepared to demonstrate to SBA, upon request, the basis for its certification.”
Two large companies who received SBA loans — Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Kura Sushi USA — announced they would repay their loans soon after.
Read more about the guidelines here.
GOOD TO KNOW
- Stocks on Thursday closed relatively flat, erasing gains made in early trading after reports surfaced that studies found a promising coronavirus treatment to be ineffective.
- The Federal Reserve said it will disclose who borrows, how much and at what cost from coronavirus emergency lending facilities that it will soon open to businesses and local governments.
- A group of Democratic senators are urging the Trump administration to ensure that Social Security recipients quickly receive the full amount of their coronavirus rebate, after an IRS deadline passed for beneficiaries to act in order to promptly receive the payments for their children.
ODDS AND ENDS